We're one of the few people in our neighborhood with a "real" fence. It's made of wood and wire. It's not invisible and it doesn't have electric current running through it. You can see it. You can't come in to our yard unless you really try.
I took this picture Sunday afternoon. Some of the neighbor kids came over to see the dogs – which is fine. The dogs usually have a good time, the kids love watching the dogs.
Except this time, I see the one of the kids climbing the fence and reaching into the yard. Parents listen up: THIS IS NEVER GOOD!
- ALWAYS supervise your kids, especially if dogs are involved. Yes, even if the dogs are friendly and nice.
- TEACH your kids how to interact appropriately with dogs. That means
- Asking the owners if they can say hi to the dogs
- NEVER reaching over a fence to pet any dog and
- Not climbing on fences.
Our dogs are nice, well-mannered dogs. But they're dogs. They get excited. They have teeth. They get rambunctious. I'm not naive enough to think my dogs will never bite; that they're not capable of biting. They're dogs: they'll definitely bite if the circumstances are right.
And running up to a fence, climbing on the rails, and leaning into our yard is definitely not a good idea. It was a perfect teaching moment…if only the parents were around. My husband educated the kids as best he could without resorting to scolding (at which point the educational opportunity vanishes). He explained that walking to the fence, calling the dogs' by name, asking them to sit (the dogs have all learned to sit on cue if someone outside the fence asks), kneeling down, and then petting the dogs is the best way to say Hi.
In general, we've got great neighbor kids. And for the most part they've got great dog-skills. And our dogs really do like the visits. I don't want the kids to think that all dogs are friendly and tolerant like ours – a little bit of education might save these kids — and their parents — a lot of pain and plastic surgery by preventing a dog bite.